When the subject of unequal yoking comes up, often people think about marriage, business, and associations. However, I think much is missed because the concept of yoking is not well understood. A yoke is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull as a pair when working; although, a yoke can also be used on a solitary animal.
Jesus instructs in Matthew 11:28-29,
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
This command is directed to more than one person, since the pronoun “ye” is used. Thus, it is safe to assume that Jesus is directing those involved in joint Kingdom work, to place His yoke (His law) upon themselves in order to work effectively (six days) and find rest for their souls (Sabbath). The only reason to be yoked is because there is work to be done.
Our priorities in life are to seek first (or primarily) the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. This will best be achieved if those who work together share similar worldviews, are compatibly matched, and agree on the goals and purposes of the undertaking. Thus, beginning a family through marriage must have as a primary consideration whether or not the man and woman are able to work together effectively in their service to the Lord, each contributing to the “pulling of the load.”
Obviously, this necessitates they both be followers of Jesus Christ if their marriage is to be a Christian one. And, each must appreciate the other’s talents and gifts in order to be suited for their joint efforts. Consider that two oxen of differing size and strength might actually break a yoke. Consider, as well, how poorly they would accomplish their task.
Aside from the obvious criteria for marriage (readiness to support and raise a family), another necessary prerequisite involves each individual having an awareness of God’s call on his or her life and an expectation that as man and woman joined together, they can maintain those individual callings and enhance them as they work together as husband and wife. Mutual examination must be a top priority in this regard, along with receiving input from close family and friends. This will allow time to answer the ultimate question: Will we honor God by our union and serve the Kingdom, thereby finding rest for our souls?
Not all Christian couples were believers when they married. Many experience difficulties along the marriage journey because of it. This does not mean they cannot learn to serve together. If they have the faith and humility to recognize that they need a standard outside of themselves and learn to apply it, they will be positioned to accomplish fruitful Kingdom work together. Thanks be to God that He has given us this standard and the way to holiness by means of His law-word!